My brand-new day planner for 2019 arrived from Amazon yesterday, and I eagerly began rifling through it – entering key dates and events.

Like many of you, after raising five kids, my daily organizer looks a lot different than it used to. No more pediatric appointments for yearly check-ups. No more playground duty, parent association meetings, car pool driving. No more soccer, basketball, baseball, and hockey games and practices.

So many blank pages to fill – for the most part – in any way I want. Many of us revel in the fact that we can plan our own day. Watch a sunset if we want. Drive to the nearest beach on a whim.

But it begs a question.

What Do We Want?

Should we learn Canasta? Play more Bridge or Maj Jong? Join an additional book club? Commit to that 7 a.m. Hot Yoga class? Go back to baking from scratch and whipping-up soups that simmer all day long on the stove?

Knit more afghans for people who need comfort? Touch base regularly with those we know are lonely? The choices are endless – sometimes overwhelming.

I do what I always do when faced with a dilemma: I break it down into doable segments to help steer me toward a satisfying course of action.

Lose It

Lose the phrase “I can’t.” Entertain the phrase “I might.” Adopt the phrase “I will.

My brand-new orange bike with turquoise trimmed wheels is still brand new after I’ve owned it for over a year. Why? Because the few times I took it out, I veered perilously close to oncoming cars, fell continuously when trying to master the hand brakes, and found sharp turns highly anxiety-producing.

I’m feeling the fear, but this year I’m not letting it stop me. Solution: I’m buying adult size training wheels! Who knows, in a few months – just like my kiddies did so many years ago – I may be able to ride without them. Or maybe not.

Either way, one thing is certain: my brand-new bike will not just be adorning the wall of my garage. It will be transporting me to new neighborhoods and destinations on two wheels – or four.

Change the Mindset

Behave like your dreams have already come true.

No more “Life Sucks.” Much more “What the Hell!”

Act like you deserve it. Take a compliment gracefully. Ask for what you want.

Resign yourself to never completing your To-Do list: I’ll be happy when the house is power washed… I’ll be happy when I replace the worn living room rug… I’ll be happy when I screen in the porch. Glory in the imperfect present. Enjoy what you have!

Resist the urge to judge a woman’s character by the price of her purse, the model car that she drives, the success or lack of success of her offspring, the square footage of her home, and the size and brilliance of her diamond stud earrings.

Comparing yourself to others zaps energy. Focusing on your personal blessings frees your mind from past failures and regrets and allows you to harness your vigor in life-enhancing ways.

De-Amazon

My coffee maker suddenly stopped brewing. I ordered a new one from Amazon and it arrived the next day. My dust buster broke. I ordered a new one from Amazon and it arrived the next day.

One-click buying is convenient, effortless, and instantly gratifying. I tingle with anticipation every time I see that cardboard box with the Amazon logo setting on my front porch.

But I’m wary: I’m interfacing less with actual people and deriving more pleasure from owning the product, rather than experiencing the buy. And I’m not alone. According to Adobe Analytics, $6.22 billion was spent online on Black Friday.

My Amazon addiction will be altered by mouse steps – not kangaroo leaps. For instance, I’m beginning to shop local. I’m going to patronize owner-operated retail establishments for gifts.

Each month, I’m going to seek out a new boutique to peruse and suffuse myself in its ambiance, introduce myself to the proprietor, familiarize myself with its inventory, and tell my friends about my shopping adventure.

And I’m going record it all in a little purple notebook that just arrived from Amazon. (Hey, habits aren’t broken overnight.)

Think Big, But Judge Yourself Realistically

Maybe this year will be the year I listen more and pontificate less, stitch rather than bitch, and empathize rather than judge.

Maybe this year I’ll choose the kindest way to respond, not the most expedient way.

Maybe this year I’ll enroll in one class that scares the hell out of me.

Maybe this year I’ll prize ideas over gossip. Only say “Yes” when I mean it. Employ common sense; discard nonsense. And acquire a band of writing buddies to make the process less arduous.

Hopefully, all of us will continue to think big, but recognize that sometimes even 70 percent effort is good enough.

And I’m going to start right now.

How are you going to make 2019 different? Better? Happier? And more fulfilling? Do you have strategies that you think will work for you this year? Please share all about them with our community!

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